San Antonio Winery: ‘Wines from Down Under’ Australia & New Zealand Wine Tasting

Sometimes I feel like a fraud. I mean, what kind of self-proclaimed Gastronomer doesn’t embrace the drink of the gods wholeheartedly? It’s true that vino and I cross paths every so often, but truth be told, clever names and colorful labels intrigue me more than vintage years, and wine lists may as well be written in Russian because their contents are all very foreign to me.

When I received an invitation from San Antonio Winery to attend their “Wines from Down Under” seminar, I jumped at the chance to step up my gastronomical game. Spending an afternoon eating fine food while sipping wines from Down Under sounded like my kind of fun. Plus, I was certain I’d learn a thing or two.

When one thinks of California wines, the regions of Napa and Sonoma usually come to mind. Although it’s maddening to imagine, Los Angeles’ heavily industrialized downtown was once the epicenter of winemaking in The Golden State. San Antonio Winery was established in 1917 by Santo Cambianica, an Italian immigrant from Lombardy; he named the winery after Saint Anthony for good luck. San Antonio Winery is the last of the more than one hundred wineries that once lined the Los Angeles River Basin.

The midday event was led by Master Sommelier Elizabeth Schweitzer and featured seven wines of Aussie and Kiwi origin paired with five well-crafted dishes. Here’s the spread:

Appetizer—Barbecued shrimp with a mango pickle / Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2008.

First—Pan-seared Barramundi, green onion basamati rice, and tomato fondue with crispy onions / D’Arenberg “Hermit Crab” Viognier Marsanne 2008 and Ferngrove Semillion-Sauvignon Blanc 2006/07.

Second—Australian lamp chop with roasted sweet potatoes and stewed eggplants / D’Arenberg “Laughing Magpie” Shiraz Voignier 2007 and Penley “Phoenix” Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.

Cheese—Australian cheddar with sea biscuit crackers and fresh cherries / Ferngrove “Dragon” Shiraz 2005.

DessertLamington—chocolate dipped cake with shredded coconut, raspberry coulis, and bitter chocolate sauce / Wyndham Estate “Bin 555″ Sparling Shiraz.

Even though San Antonio Winery houses a restaurant—Maddalena Restaurant—I wasn’t expecting a great showing in the food department. However, all it took was one bite of the succulent grilled shrimp to totally change my mind. The sweet and flaky Barrumundi and the bloody rare lamb chops were both expertly prepared as well. I really appreciated that the food was given as much thought as the wines.

Wine-wise, my favorites were the lovely whites with their crisp, fruity, light, and refreshing characteristics. The Australian “Hermit Crab” was a standout. I also sampled my first sparkling red wine, the “Bin 555,” which was full-bodied and strong. The Astronomer thought that the “Phoenix” Cabernet Sauvignon had essence of stinky tofu.

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Phone: 323-223-1401

San Antonio Winery on Urbanspoon

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9 Responses to “San Antonio Winery: ‘Wines from Down Under’ Australia & New Zealand Wine Tasting”


  • this was like an episode of california’s gold. loved it. the food looks awesome and that cheddar is beautiful w/ the black cherry. looks like a fun afternoon.

  • I hear you quite clearly. I too love wine (very much) but I can’t tell you why I like what I like, or what it is about it that makes me want more of it. Good quality beer, I’m all over it. But when it comes to wine, I fall way short.

    The wine/food pairings look fantastic. And Viognier is always high on my list, especially with fish and other “white” dishes.

    Looks like they’re pouring a few righteous ales on the 9th too.

  • Bwahaha, the ‘Australian’ food is hilarious, gotta have a lamb chop (even though that is a rack), though the lamington cake looks so much better than a real (dry, boring, bland) lamington. I love sparkling shiraz, though I’m not sure I’ve tasted that variety (how very un-Australian of me).

  • That looks like a fabulous spread. I have always loved Bin 555!

  • I’m so bummed I missed this event!

    If you are interested in trying more New Zealand whites (you know, so we can go ahead and achieve 50% compatibility), Kim Crawford and Nobilo are two of my favorites. Both are available at Trader Joe’s — the later for $10.99 which is a lot less than say $17.

  • That looks like great fun, and thanks for the suggestions. We’ve been to NZ twice (and loved it, of course), so I tend to buy Aussie and NZ wines often out of sentimentality.

    Meanwhile: that’s no lamb chop. I hate to break it to you, kid, but that’s a baseball bat. Really.

  • I have been keeping up with your blog for a few months now and I thoroughly enjoy it! funny thing tonight though, I have my Google Search set up to look for “San Antonio (TX)” every night for my job (news) and your blog came up due to this review. :-)

    I was like, “hey, that’s the blog I normally read!”

    Anywho… enjoy the eats!

  • I keep seeing the sign for the San Antonio winery every time I drive by it on the freeway and wonder what it’s all about. Now I know there’s good food to be had there. Who knew?

  • I’m curious… If this is a California winery, why are they promoting wine from down under? I hate how wine from Canada is neglected for foreign wines! BTW, I’m #36 on the waiting list for the movie “Bottle shock” at the library. It’s all about how California wine competed with the best of Europe.

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